Sep 07, 2022 03:54 AM

In Depth: The Weak Link in China’s New-Energy Power Plan: Weather

A wind power farm in Anhui province on Sept. 6, 2022.
A wind power farm in Anhui province on Sept. 6, 2022.

This summer’s catastrophic electricity shortfall in southwestern China’s Sichuan province exposed the biggest weakness in the country’s strategy for decarbonizing power generation: the weather.

Sichuan’s power woes grew out of a 40% drop in rainfall in the upstream Yangtze River watershed. That dried up reservoirs and slashed generating capacity by half in a province that’s the country’s largest producer of hydropower. The supply of electricity fell to businesses and households across the province of 84 million people and sent ripple effects forcing air conditioning cutbacks as far away as Shanghai 2,000 kilometers to the east.

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